Magazine of the week: Puss Puss #2
There is no contemporary shortage of websites, blogs or YouTube videos dedicated to cats. Unlike internet memes, London-based Puss Puss doesn’t just rely on the kittens-are-cute or cats-are-funny formula, instead, the magazine is a gold and glossy appreciation of cats in all their many secretive and surprising dimensions. Considering felines from the perspective of culture, fashion, history and photography, the pages are filled with cleverly conceived shoots and models with fierce cat-eyes. Like cats –which can be adorably hilarious – the magazine is slightly tongue-and-cheek, but also like cats, Puss Puss is deadly serious – and it would hate to think that you were laughing at it. With its gold and its glamour, the pages practically worship kittens as if they were ancient goddesses, putting them on magnificent pedestals for the colourful and playful pages.
Cats have always been the companions of great literary icons, men and women of words from Doris Lessing to Mark Twain. As this magazine teaches you, Ernest Hemingway also loved cats and owned 55 of them, naming each after a famous person from his time. A shoot dedicated to Hemingway’s feline friends perfectly matches cat with name and background colour (above).
An interview with chef Gizzi, famous for her tantalising food and cat eye make-up, brings together two contemporary favourites of the moment: a grumpy looking cat and a banquet of Korean food. Like the rest of the magazine, the photography here is particularly on point – with an alert eye for detail and a framing style that keeps things clean and neat.
Sometimes the cat theme isn’t as obvious as in many of the photo shoots, and Puss Puss engages with the cultural significance of the animals instead. An interview with indie magazine favourites Skinny Girl Diet makes the publication’s pages because their record sleeve features a cartoon kitten, and a piece on the Black Panther group (above) delves into the meaning behind the name. Other articles are more obviously feline fanatical: a tour of the resident hotel cats around the world (below), from The Savoy’s Kasper and The Le Bristol’s Kleopatre, delights in the most pampered pusses ever.
What stands out primarily are the shoots and still lives – both in terms of the concepts and execution. ‘Supernatural Causality’ photographed by Paolo Di Lucente (above) is a whimsical delight, focusing on the unlucky aftermath of passing black cats. A shoot called ‘Kittens & Heels’ nods to the surrealists, particularly Angus McBean and his technique of having stray body parts emerge from holes cut into a set. Like McBean’s work, this still life uses arresting, blocky colours and hilarious props, all tied together with mind-bending set design (below). The magazine’s theme allows for set designers, photographers, make-up artists and stylists to flex their imagination, and so Puss Puss is a great platform for curious, well-crafted eye-candy.
Like Cat People, another independent magazine dedicated to cats, Puss Puss has a strong curatorial and editorial perspective, but it’s glossier and more fashion driven than the Australian publication. And while Cat People is very much about the people who love cats, Puss Puss is wholeheartedly devoted to the kittens first, people second. Cats have been having it quite hard for the past few years, treated as online clowns instead of the proudly mysterious creatures they fashion themselves as. The latter is how they’ve always been thought of historically – as the contemplative companions of artist like Hemingway, O’Keefe and Picasso. Puss Puss repositions cats as glamorous, creative inspirations, the enigmatic muses for contemporary designers and image-makers.
Editor: Maria Joudina-Robinson
Design: Maria Joudina-Robinson & Kristiane Leu
Review by Madeleine Morley